In three weeks, I'll be back in St. Andrews.
I leave Halifax on the 7th and arrive in Glasgow early on the 8th, meaning that by mid afternoon I'll be installed once again in St. Andrews. I'm hoping the jet-lag won't be too severe, as I'm arriving in the middle of Freshers' week and I'll already have missed a number of events, so I'd rather not miss more. It'll be so exciting to do Freshers' week again, this time going to events to see old friends, rather than standing awkwardly at a dozen different 'give it a go' sessions.
This year will be different. I don't even know how different yet, but I do know that I can't count on it to be all that much like my exchange year.
For starters, I'm a legit student this time. As in, an honest-to-goodness staying-for-three-years and earning-a-degree student. This isn't a year out, where courses transfer as pass/fail. This time, academics need to be top priority.
On top of that, I'm a legit PhD student. I won't be an undergrad moaning about 9:00am lectures, or madly scrambling to finish a reading, or pretending I'm intelligent because I took a quick look at secondary sources. I'll be heading in to my office every morning setting my own schedule, studiously reading everything I can find in my area, and hopefully contributing articles of my own. My MA gave me a taste of real scholarship, but next year will crank that up a notch.
Most importantly, I'm a legit PhD student at St. Andrews. As in, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. One of the top universities in the world. 600 years old. The alma matter of royalty. An institute of learning that was already well established by the time Shakespeare wrote the plays I study. Last year, I had the privilege of temporarily belonging to that world-- the next three years will tie me forever to the name of St. Andrews.
To be honest... I'm terrified. Excited, yes. Exhilarated, that too. But, more than anything, I can't believe my dream is coming true, and I'm both excited and scared for what that means. Getting my PhD from St. Andrews will be both the hardest and the best thing I've ever done. And it all starts in three weeks.